BOOK SUMMARY: This is a book to be enjoyed by all men and boys who have enjoyed the Scouting experience of their youth - or as a Scouting volunteer. This book contains real-life humor, inspiration, and adventures as extracted from journals of thirty five years of experience with Scouts and leaders. The book will bring back a flood of memories and joy in past service given and enjoyed.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: This book is a collection of a multitude of Scouting experiences. There are thoughts on every Scouting subject imagineable. There are hints on how to do the job, how to enjoy the Scouting moments, programs and gimmicks that really work and the fun, adventure and romance of the great Scouting program.
WHY THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN: This book was written to motivate and inspire and entertain current Scouting leaders, past leaders and those who think they might want to get involved. Some of the antics of boys and the adventure of it all - are too good not to be written down and enjoyed by the current generation, red-coaters of the past - and anyone who enjoyed their own Scouting experience. This book was written from thirty five years of experiences with real boys and leaders.
By KEVIN V. HUNT
COPYRIGHT 1987, 1991 by KEVIN V. HUNT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER TITLE PAGE
1. FUN, ADVENTURE AND ROMANCE 1
2. THE JOY AND TRAUMA! 31
3. DON'T LET HIM STOP YET! 50
4. "BETWEEN US BOYS" 81
5. PROGRAMS AND "GIMMICKS 111
6. THE OUTING IN SCOUTING 139
7. MR. CLEAN! 169
8. FROM THE EYE OF A SCOUT 192
9. GOOD JOB, Mr. SCOUTMASTER! 210
Dedicated to MISTER G. K. NELSON and to "JIM" JOHNSON - The greatest Scoutmasters a boy could ever have.
FUN, ADVENTURE AND ROMANCE
“FUN, ADVENTURE, AND ROMANCE …” One of the Youth Leadership professors at the college I attended talked extensively to us about the "Fun, Adventure, and Romance" of Scouting. "Adventure," he said, "Is when you do something for the first time. “Fun” is when you repeat the adventure and still enjoy it. And “Romance” is the Spirit of Scouting, the classy experiences that tie you to the program. Romance keeps you coming back for more fun and adventure." Scouting is full of opportunities for fun, adventure and romance. As I recall my Scouting days, I have a flood of special memories of the fun, adventure and romance I have experienced through the years. I'd like to share many of those special memories with you and hope they may generate some memories of your own. I hope that mine are of interest to you. They come from my personal journals of true Scouting adventures over 30 years or so in Scouting. Scouting, for me, is a way of life. It is new activities and opportunities. It is an attitude which allows me to be my true self. Scouting is brotherhood at its best. Scouting is a feeling, a special pride, a motivation for success. It is opportunities for service to others, a desire to reach out. Scouting embodies all that is good and desirable in citizenship, character and fitness. Scouting is more than camping trips and a life of fun. It is true "mountain-top" experiences that bring one closer to our God. Scouting is personal growth and achievement and becoming all that is in us. It is also motivating and inspiring young men to realize their own divine potential. Scouting meshes well with my personal priorities of church and family. Scouting is a spirit, a commitment to excellence, now and in the future.
THE ADVENTURE OF NEW THINGS: As I think about new things I think back to my days as a GNUBIE [A "FIRST-YEAR CAMPER]. I was really green then. I remember that first hike and wandering around in Arizona's Superstition Mountains. It wasn't that we were lost, it's just that it took us longer than planned to get there. We did get to see the star of the old "Death Valley Days" television series when we ended up at the movie set out in the middle of nowhere. I remember my first merit badge, Personal Finances. They don't even have that one any more. I had to go ten miles away just to find a merit badge counselor.
I remember the first time that I went to Camp Geronimo. I was sure scared with the story of the Mongollon Monster. I remember when I was first made a Webelos Den Leader. I was under age but we sure had some fun times. I can still see (and hear) those four Webelos cubs as we went on a field trip to a bird farm. They were hanging from the windows yell - singing, "Be Kind to Your Webbed Footed Friends". I was a Webelos Leader for two years and loved every minute of it. It was great fun to build catapults and all of those other projects and activities which we did as a den. It was a momentous day when I joined the ranks of Scouting professionals. Another of my life-long dreams had come true. It is funny, but I can still recall exactly what I did on my first day on the new job. We did the inventory of the council office. I can still count all those little Bobcat pins when I can't get to sleep at night.
I remember too, my transfer from Ogden, Utah to Santa Barbara, California. I had known for a few months that it was time for a transfer. I had an interview with the Area Director, and he told me my chances for transfer were not real good at that time. He said that professional moves had slowed a bit. But for some reason, I knew that I was making a move. As I closed camp that year, I prepared everything for a smooth transition for my successor. I left my files and records in perfect order. Right after camp, my wife and I headed for Santa Barbara for a regional conference for all professionals of the Boy Scouts of America. On the way down there, we visited Yosemite for our first time. Also, while stopped for the night in metropolitan Winnemucca, Nevada, one of my other dreams came true. I had always wanted a tandem bike and we happened onto one that was a great deal. We bought it, tied it to the top of our 3/4-ton Horizon and it went with us to Santa Barbara. We had a few breaks at the conference and enjoyed riding our bike down to the scenic Goleta Beach near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus where our conference was held. Seeing the beach was another adventure for me. While in Santa Barbara, I talked to the Area Director once again. Within a few minutes, he had me in an interview. From then on, things happened quickly. Just a few hours later, we had agreed to accept a job in Beautiful Santa Barbara. It was all so unbelievable but so exciting. We had fallen in love with Santa Barbara on our brief visit there.
We dashed home to wrap things up in Ogden. Back at the office, I made detailed records of the volunteers in my district, my units, the SME train plaque delivery, and coming activities. I tried to leave records that would be helpful for my replacement. My Fieldbook was complete and in perfect order two weeks before my final day. I'd also made agendas for all of my meetings for the next three months. A fellow professional really laughed at me. "That must be the ultimate, all packed and ready to move to Santa Barbara," he said. I'll have to admit that it was all very exciting. We had many friends we wanted to see before our departure but not enough time to make the rounds to all of them. We decided, instead, to have an open house for all of them at our home. We had a steady flow of friends come through for a two-hour period. It was especially hard to bid adieu to all of my camp staff friends who came. We had shared some special times together. I went on a hike one Saturday with my good friend, Scott. Together we hiked to the top of Mt. Ogden Peak, the 10,000' peak for which my district was named. It was a neat experience to have that final activity together. From the peak we could see nearly a hundred miles in every direction. The Scouters of my district staged a going-away party for Lou Dene and me at one of my favorite places, the Lion's Lodge in Morgan Canyon. Actually, we already had the evening scheduled for our Top Team Conference but the agenda was altered a bit for the occasion. It was a challenge to say goodbye to our many Scouting friends. After five years with them, it was difficult to leave. The trip to Santa Barbara went smoothly for us. Our three girls enjoyed taking their turns with me in the moving van. My first day at the Mission Council was somewhat of a shock. My predecessor had left no records for me. There was nothing to work with: no fieldbook, no agendas, no documentation. It was like making a cake from scratch with no recipe. I remember another first at Santa Barbara. The first or second day I was there, my new Advancement Chairman, Ihsan, took me to lunch. That was the beginning of a Scouting friendship that has out- lasted my professional service in Santa Barbara. Ihsan, who was from the Middle East, kind of adopted my family and me. With three children, it was not an easy task to find an apartment. I just about said, "suitable apartment" but we didn't have much of a choice. We found the ONLY apartment complex that allowed children. The only problem was that there were no vacancies.
We ended up staying in a motel for nearly a month as we waited for an apartment to open up. Then another problem emerged as we discovered that everything we needed was locked up in the moving van. At long last, however, we were able to get the apartment we desired. It was nice to get moved into our own place. All of the council staff, including the boss, showed up to assist us. We also met Alan, A Scoutmaster in the district, and he and his wife had us over for dinner that first night. A couple of days later we brought our tandem bike home from the Scout office. After we learned we'd be moving to Santa Barbara, we had left the bike when we were there for the conference. It had been sitting and waiting for our arrival. As we brought the bike home, my daughter, Jackie said, "Well,... We've moved to California!" I guess we'd told her we'd ride our new bike when we got to our new home in California. I remember some other special Scouting adventures, too. Some of these came through association with the Kiwanis Club (which came because of my Scouting career). I particularly remember the Christmas party our club sponsored at the local train depot for underprivileged kids. The kids' pleasure at seeing Santa Claus was evident in their shining eyes. Some Scouting adventures came with the introduction of new programs that later became a full part of the Scouting family. I was thrilled to have been involved with the great Varsity Scouting program from its inception. We started using Varsity Scouting as it entered the "pre-pilot" stage. We were the pioneers who helped it become an official part of Scouting's total family program. Another time, all of us professionals and many of our key volunteers were summoned to Salt Lake City to hear of some new programs. We there learned of the "enhanced" Bear Cub Scout requirements. That is also when we first learned of the new Tiger Cub program. Tigers too, proved to be an exciting addition to the family.
When the Tiger Cub program was introduced, we had one of the first Tiger groups with our pack at Isla Vista (near Santa Barbara, California). It was great to see the parents building a Scouting relationship with their boys at that early age. We were all very pleased with the results of our Tiger group. After a year of activities with their families, our Tigers were anxious to join our pack as a new den, already organized with their own leadership.
In Santa Barbara I experienced an adventure that probably was one which comes only once in a lifetime. President Ronald Reagan's ranch, located near Santa Barbara was the site of a visit by Queen Elizabeth of England. Queen Elizabeth was scheduled to make a brief visit to Santa Barbara's historic County Courthouse. Our district was asked to invite fifty perfectly uniformed Scouts to be on hand to welcome the Queen. I was happy to comply with the unusual request but I was surprised at how difficult it was to find that many boys with complete uniforms. I don't know how we rated, but we had front row "seats". The Queen walked within three feet of where we stood and took special notice of our group. We had with us, a British Scout who was visiting friends in our community. The Queen spotted the boy immediately, stopped and saluted him, shook his hand, and then went on her way. I have fond memories of my friend "Ernie" from camp. Wayne was the son of my District Chairman so we were friends before camp and after it ended also. Being married, Lou Dene and I were anxious to share that same marital bliss with our friends who were still single.
Wayne fell within that "class" so we were concerned for his welfare. Lou Dene had a former college roommate who also lived in our fair city. We thought the two of them might be "perfect" for each other. At first mention of it, Wayne was not very interested in our match-making help. Later he reconsidered and called for Cheryl's phone number. That's all it took! Soon they had their first date and then a few months afterwards we witnessed their marriage as they were united "for time and all eternity". That was a special day for all of us ... And after a few years of marriage, Wayne and Cheryl, and his folks, Dick and Belva are all still our very good friends. The above experience probably should be categorized under the "Romance of Scouting" but I guess it all started with the adventure of that first phone call. Actually, my own "fun, adventure, and romance" of marriage also had its beginnings in Scout Camp. It was while I was at Camp Loll (located on the South border of Yellowstone National Park) that I decided I'd had enough of the single life. Though I hadn't seen her for over four months, I decided to make the big move for Lou Dene. It really was a "big move" for me since she was working at a girl's camp some five hundred miles away. I stayed up until 2:00 one morning writing my letter of proposal to her. I sent the letter back to Ogden with the Scout Executive to mail from the Scout office.
My "hot" letter sat in the office for nearly two weeks before the boss remembered to mail it. All of this time I was sitting on pins and needles waiting for her reply (and it wasn't pine needles that I was sitting on)! Finally though, I received the official word - "YES!" - back from her. We could write another book of our crazy courtship but to keep a long story short here, suffice it to say that "we courted by mail through the rest of the summer and we were married just three weeks from the time that we both finished at the camps where we'd been working." With that first winter snowfall at Camp Loll, I hurried from camp to get to Salt Lake City to see Lou Dene once again. That trip is also a story in itself, but I finally arrived after driving in rain all of the way South, a flat tire and other excitement that was neither an adventure nor fun. After my grueling trip, I finally arrived at her home somewhat bedraggled and two hours late. I hadn't previously met Lou's family but her parents, nine brothers and sisters, spouses and children were all there waiting for me as I arrived. I soon learned that I was in for an unusual adventure, and one which was obviously fun for her family. For nearly an hour and a half, the throng of thirty five or forty strangers (and I was really thinking "strange" by the time that they were done with me) fired questions of all varieties at me. They held a "family council meeting " to determine whether I should be allowed to become an "out-law" in the family. Only romance could have sustained me through that experience. Even after that, I was still willing to "go through with it".
I still remember also, the adventure of the "stag party" staged for me by some of my camp staff friends. Delose hosted us "stags" at his house. We dined on punch and cookies as we viewed camp staff slides the night before my marriage. Our wedding reception even turned into a fun experience. I guess it was fun for me, and probably an adventure for my mother-in-law. You should have seen the shocked look on her face as she watched about fifteen of my camp staffers after they had entered the hall. Delose, who also became engaged that summer at Loll, brought a van full of the staff down for the occasion. Under Delose's direction, and with all of his enthusiasm as a camp director, they quickly captured the attention of the large crowd. At the chagrin of my in-laws, the staff noisily started "singing" our old camp favorite, even "Father Abraham"! I got laughs from everyone as I joined them in their singing: I guess it was a bit different to do that song while wearing a tuxedo but I had never had so much fun in all my life.
That experience led to another Scouting adventure a few years later. I was attending a Scout leader's roundtable and was surprised when my friend Milan called me "front and center" for a special presentation. Lou and I were expecting a baby and he'd made us a classy diaper bag inscribed with the words, "HUNT'S BABY, property of the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA". Since I was in Scouting, I kind of wanted a boy, but I was delighted with my little lady as she arrived. I had her in a Scout uniform within just a few months of her birth. I was proud of that little Scout. I still laugh at the time Lou was pregnant while at camp when the Troop Leader Training course was in progress. Lou had repaired britches for several boys and leaders so they invited her to their final banquet at the end of the week. She was six months pregnant and showed up dressed in one of my uniforms - her hair well hidden under a Scout hat. They had made a point of saying that the affair was to be a uniformed activity. She was in uniform, but she certainly looked funny. She was good for a few laughs that day! Lou and I may be crazy, but from the day of our marriage, we've both wanted a dozen kids. Our "goal" has been the topic of many interesting comments from our friends. One time Lou Dene was with me when I stopped at the Scout office. She was pregnant with Jackie and had had a busy day with her college graduation and all. Lou had not yet located any nylons that would fit a pregnant lady but somehow she had squeezed herself into one of her regular pairs. Now though, she was feeling a little uptight as we arrived at the Scout office after her long day. She had removed the tight nylons just before we arrived at the office so she was barefoot as she went into the office with me to lock up after a training session for my district. Lowell, my District Chairman took one look at her and acted like he was trying to figure it all out. He pulled me aside (but where she could hear him) and said, "So you really do keep her barefoot and pregnant? ... I've heard that some guys do this with their wives!" We all got a chuckle out of the incident.
Once at camp I drove a van full of staffers to church. I counted twelve heads combining our kids and staff. I said to Lou, "This is what it could be like with twelve children!" She took a look back and said, "Oh, no!" I'll leave it to your own imagination to figure out whether this goal of ours would fall with ... fun, adventure, or romance ...? Another Scouting adventure I recall is my acceptance of my first Cubmaster job. I had been in Cub Scouting for a number of years but there was something special about being installed as a Cubmaster.
Since I accepted that first Cubmaster position, I've since served in that position for over seven years. Now it is no longer at the "adventure" stage. It has now reached the "fun" stage. It's great fun to go to the monthly pack meetings. I feel comfortable with who and what I am, so I can go to those meetings to have a fun time. THE FUN OF SCOUTING: It's been fun over the years, as I have served as Cubmaster, getting up in front of the Cub Scouts and families and making a complete fool of myself through the crazy games, songs, and cheers. It's even more fun, however, to observe the shocked look on the faces of some of the parents as I get them involved in some of those crazy things also. When first exposed to my uninhibited nature, some folks immediately go into a state of shock. I've always told parents at my Cub Scout pack meetings, that if they don't sit in the audience and PARTICIPATE in songs, claps and such things, then they'll soon be up front leading them (and making a fool of themselves right along with me).
Parents quickly learn that I'm very serious about their participation and after the first couple of pack meetings, they loosen up a bit. From then on, they all love our craziness as much as the rest of us who have been at it for a while. I would class songs and campfire programs as part of the "fun" of Scouting and perhaps they also fit with "romance". Though I've heard the same songs and have seen the same lousy skits more than I'd care to say, they're still fun each time I experience them again. It may be that these programs are so traditional that much of our Scouting Spirit is derived from them. For some unexplainable reason, the programs are still fun and they probably always will be. I remember the special thrill of some other programs that were particularly fun. Our "Gong Show" while in New Jersey at NEI (BSA's National Executive Institute training for new professionals) is one of those special memories. We were all rolling in the aisles laughing over that one. Jack did his "Radio Act" and Charlie did "Jaberwocky". I started to lead a song but got "gonged". Our cottage had a goofy band and sang "Camp Town Races". I played the belt, someone else the spoons, jug, metal sign, etc. Rob did his "Donald Duck routine" of the song "Hello, Dolly!" I recall with pleasure, Paul and John doing the "Snake Catcher" skit at Bartlett, and a couple of crazy Del Webb staffers doing "The King, the Queen, and the Gate". I remember well, Wayne's rendition of dumb "Ernie". I can still see him in those out-of-focus glasses and ear muffs. He held us all spellbound. And how could one ever forget "Mahonri" doing his infamous "Yellow Bandana"? Those were all great times.
I had a couple of favorites that I liked to do at campfire programs. One was a song about a peg- legged man (with three legs). This song was "Jake the Peg". I had heard my aunt and uncle sing this song on numerous occasions and had them send me a copy of it. I wore a top coat and an old hat that was flatter than a pancake as I performed. I also made an extra "leg" of wood and foam rubber. It was the same size as my own leg, so it really looked authentic when I covered it with some old Scout pants. One pocket of my coat was cut out completely so I could stick my hand down through it to manipulate "Jake". Some people said they could not even tell which leg was the peg leg as I danced around with it.
Another of my old favorites was a carry-over from my own days as a Gnubie at Camp Geronimo. I can still see one of the staffers of twenty years ago putting us through the simpleton motions of "Little house in the middle of the woods ... Little old man by the window stood. ... Saw a rabbit hopping by, ... a knocking at his door. 'Help me! Help me! Help me!', he cried ... 'Before the hunter shoots me dead.' ... 'Come little rabbit, come with me ... Oh! How happy we will be.'" As we did this at our campfire programs, we changed it slightly. I'd come out on "stage" and would start singing and going through the juvenile motions at the same time. I'd act like it was the greatest song ever to hit the campfire program circuit. The staff would let me get only about half way through the song before several of them would come and run me off stage. "Get out of here, old-timer! You're too old fashioned. Things have changed...!" After they got me off, they'd do their own "modern" version of the song. They would sing: "In a pad in a forest green, ...bubbbup ... Crazy Herman was surveying the scene. ... bubbbupp ... Saw a hare-man hopping by, ... a rappin' at his door ... 'Like help! Like help!' Came the plea ... Before the hunter exterminates me. ...bubbbup .... 'Crazy hare-man, jump and shout ... Come in and we'll hang out!'" It was always fun to see the boys' reactions as we did the little episode. They especially liked it when staff would "rock out" on their version.
Another of my old camp favorites was one that I think was made famous by Gunner Berg, A Scouting enigma known throughout the entire Boy Scouts of America. This was "Three Wood Pigeons". Again, however, our camp had its own uninspired version. We changed the song to read, "Three ... Turkey ... Buzzards ...!" We had three "buzzards" on staff that really played their part to the ultimate. Songs were always my favorite part of campfire programs. I enjoyed leading the songs whenever I had a chance. And as I think of singing around a campfire, I think of another of my heroes. I don't know that he was ever a Scout, but his words aptly describe our efforts at music making. Ralph Moody, a noted American writer (and one of my favorites), once wrote of his days growing up in the old West. He was the boss of a job and from the way he describes his job and that of the workers, it sounds like his job was about like being a Scoutmaster or a Camp Director. Often he and his guys would do a little singing, and as he described it ..., "We didn't sing either the words or the tunes the way they were supposed to be sung, but we were loud enough to make up for whatever we lacked in pitch or pronunciation." (The Dry Divide, by Ralph Moody). That's about the way we were at singing but we had a lot of fun, and enjoyed doing it also. I have fond memories of singing around the campfires with Scouts and Staffers.
I remember too, that some of my favorite songs at camp were our staff songs. It was fun whenever we sang them at Camp Bartlett. Even now, I can hear the words of a couple of them. They were all "catchy little tunes" that kind of stuck with you for a while after hearing them. In one camp where I worked, a troop invited me to one of their campfire programs at their site. They had what we called a "friendship log" to start our campfire. Each boy or leader present, came with a log for the fire and at the start of the program, all of us sat in a circle around a small tipi fire. We each put one end of our stick into the fire and it looked like the spokes of a wheel. As the fire burned, we pushed our own logs further into the fire and we moved in a little closer ourselves.
A lot of my "fun of Scouting" has come through the many Scouting friends I've had over the years and I've mentioned many of these friendships already. Keith was a special friend at NEI where I went to learn how to be a professional Scouter. We really didn't even know each other very well but for some reason there was a special bond there between us. We really shared some fun times together in New Jersey. I was pleased when he wanted to exchange candles after our final "fire- side" program. I still have that candle as a symbol of our Scouting brotherhood.
While at Camp Loll, I met a Scoutmaster named Bruce. He brought the Hill Air Force Base troop to camp. We became friends while he was there and kept track of each other after camp. We were both married soon after camp ended and we discovered that we lived within a few blocks of each other. Our wives hit it off just as Bruce and I had done. We started doing things together. We often had Bruce and Gloria over for dinner at our place and they frequently had us over to theirs. We also took up jogging with them. The four of us jogged together each night after I returned home from my Scouting meetings. Most of the time this wasn't until 10:00 at night. I have never been real athletic but did take up jogging while at college. Then after college, I'd lost interest in it somewhat since I had no one to go with me. Now with the motivation of a friend, I took it up again with a renewed dedication. Bruce and I ran ahead at a matched pace. Lou Dene and Gloria followed at their slower pace. We sometimes started running from our place and at other times we started from their house. In this way we had a variety of scenery along our route. I remember specifically how cold it was when we ran. One night we ran by the bank and it was 17 degrees. Looking back, we must have been crazy but we were warmed from the running and as long as we kept moving, we didn't even notice the cold. We had some fun times with Bruce and Gloria and were sad when they moved back home to Wisconsin.
I've also had some great times through my Dutch oven cooking demonstrations. One time I was in the height of my glory as I did a demonstration for a bunch of women. That was really a fun experience. Most of the gals had no idea that so many things could be cooked in "an old metal pot". I decided to show off by making a cake. On that occasion, I made the cake using no utensils other than the oven. I cut the cake mix box like one would a small individual box of "cold" cereal. I folded the flaps up and made a "well" in the center of the mix. I poured the eggs and part of the liquid into the well. I then said with a tone of faked disappointment, "Oh, dear!" I forgot my stirring spoon." Looking around, I found a small stick on the ground. I picked up the stick, wiped it "clean" on my pants and said, "Oh, well! I'll just use this." Of course all that was planned but the ladies didn't know that. I got a kick out of the look of horror on the faces of some of the ladies. That cake turned out perfect and the ladies were all impressed. They all ate it up even though it had been stirred with a dirty old stick. For years I had done my demonstration each week for Scoutmasters at camp.
Then one year I decided that I needed a break from cooking. By that time, not having to do the demonstration was almost as much fun as doing it. I also gave the demonstration at camporees. This was excellent entertainment for the Scout- masters. One of my main reasons for doing the demonstration at such activities was to get the Scoutmasters away from their boys for a while. We found that if the Scoutmaster wasn't with his boys, the boy leaders were free to develop leadership skills that they normally would not get with the Scoutmasters there doing it for them.
We found too, that in the absence of the adult leader, the boys were less competitive. They could relax and enjoy the activities as never before. Once I asked a veteran Scouter if he ever got bored with my cooking demonstrations. He said, "No, the food tastes good each time!" In addition to the Dutch oven cooking, it was always fun to demonstrate and experiment with odd utensils: Like a cake or a hamburger in an orange peel, a biscuit on a stick, a hamburger on a rock or bacon and eggs on a tin can. Corn roasted in its shuck and banana boats were equally fun. Another fun cooking experience was the time that I had occasion to cook the staff banquet for the Wood Badge staff. I went all out and we had some great food.
In recalling the fun times of Scouting, I think of all the Scout-O-Rama's that I have attended. One year as a Scout, we built a signal tower. The only problem with the tower was that I split my pants trying to climb the thing. That was when I was a little fat kid! Another year we made sleeping bags out of foam rubber and parachute nylon. Those bags were super lightweight and very comfortable but I didn't like my bag. Unlike blankets that form around your body, that foam stood straight up in the air. It was a strange experience to sleep in it. It felt like I was sleeping in a vacuum or something. For some reason, it seemed that Scout-O-Rama weekend was always the windiest weekend of the year. Our booths always blew down a couple of times as we set them up the night before the shows. The Scout-O-Rama's were always fun, even with the wind.
As a Cubmaster, I have always enjoyed the annual Blue and Gold Banquets. Though I've been to many of them, there is still a special charm about them. The banquets have all been a bit different from each other, but yet in many ways they've all been the same. I guess the tradition of the "Blue and Gold Banquet" is another element of the Program that helps everyone to have fun, year after year. Well, Mr. Scoutmaster, the opportunity is there for you to have many great times in Scouting. I could share more fun activities and programs with you, but I'll save some for you to experience for yourself. Scouting is great fun if you'll only relax and let yourself enjoy it.
THE ROMANCE OF SCOUTING: The "Romance of Scouting" is the Spirit of Scouting that motivates and inspires us to keep doing it. The romance of Scouting is the special experiences, whether one-of-a-kind or a repeat of fun experiences, that stand out in the mind as being truly rewarding, enjoyable, memorable. I have had some of those romantic moments in the many camps where I have worked. An incident at Bartlett was a romantic moment for me: Our weather at Bartlett was generally somewhat predictable to those of us who had served for several years on staff. We all knew that we would have rain on our opening day each week and that it would be followed by many beautiful sunny days through the rest of the week. This one week, as I conducted the orientation program for Scoutmasters, I was confronted by an obviously obstinate, or know-it-all, Scoutmaster. Trying to give me a hard time, he raised his hand and said, "How often does it RAIN around here, anyway?" I calmly said, "Well, sir! It's going to start raining at precisely 4:30 this afternoon. It will then continue raining until exactly 8:15 p.m. at which time it will stop long enough for our camp- fire program. I of course, had no "pull" with the weatherman, but decided to play the man's game with him. The funny thing was that the rain started at exactly 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. Then it rained until just prior to our campfire program. It stopped raining just in time for the show. I sure had a lot of fun over that rainstorm. The next day at our leader's meeting, A Scout- master stood and commended me for my weather predictions of the day before. Another man raised his hand and said, "What else do you do?" We all had a good laugh over it.
The "Varsity Scout Games" also became a source of "romance" for me. The first year that we had them, there were only about forty boys present. Four years later, we'd built to a participation level of nearly 700 Varsity Scouts. The Scouting Spirit was high and everyone present felt that Spirit through the games. It was great to see some of my work take root and blossom as it did with the Games.
Another Varsity activity was packed with Scouting "romance". For one of our council Varsity committee meetings, for which I was the adviser, we all met at Ft. Buenaventura, a newly restored facsimile of the mountain man fort that had been famous in our area more than a hundred years previously. The event was held to get us all enthused about the upcoming Mountain Man Rendezvous. As we gathered for that meeting, we were met by a couple of real authentic-looking "mountain men" and we dined on a fabulous mountain man stew. I brought a few large venison roasts as my contribution for the stew. We all decided that this had been one of our best meetings yet.
Another moment of romance was the night we had 120 people present at our district Cub Scout leader's roundtable. We had all worked hard to improve our attendance (through group participation) but were still not quite prepared for the crowd we had that night. The Scouting Spirit was also at a record high throughout that evening. I recall with pleasure, the extravagant staff Christmas parties sponsored by our council commissioner. His house was magnificent on it's own but he had nearly every inch of the place decorated for Christmas. It was indeed, a "fairy land" and we all enjoyed being a part of such an elite party. Each year as we had our Christmas party at Jack's house, he would put on a food spread that was unequaled in any of the world's finest restaurants. It was also a special thrill to take a December swim in his huge indoor pool. The swim was all the more enjoyable as we remembered that there were several inches of snow outside.
Another romantic moment came after I'd been gone from my Santa Barbara Scouting district for over two years. My advancement chairman and wife were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Only a few select Scouters were a part of that elite group at the beautiful but also extremely expensive "Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel". It was a neat experience to once again be with those special red-coaters. We laughed as we reminisced of many of our special times together in the district. We were all caught off guard a little with the "belly dancer" entertainment. My own personal preference would have been a well-done campfire program.
I remember some occasional good turns that have been particularly meaningful to me as I have tried "to do my good turn daily". One of these occasions came in Ogden, Utah as a few of us professional Scouters talked in the parking lot after a council dinner. Larry seemed to be a bit uneasy over something. Finally, he said, "Okay, which one of you guys is going to loan me $5.00 for gas to get back home. I was quick to come forth with the $5.00 he needed. I said, "Larry, I think you are "supposed" to have this money." The interesting thing was that I almost NEVER carry cash with me so it was unusual that I even had $5.00. Earlier that day as I put gas in my car, I had felt inspired to get $5.00 back in cash from the credit card which I had used to make my gas purchase. I thought, "Well, that's a strange thing to do. I don't know why I am doing this but I guess I'll listen to the promptings and follow them." I had never previously asked for a cash advance and I have not since had reason to do so. I was happy that I'd listened to the promptings of the Spirit and had the means to help a friend in need.
I've told you about my Wood Badge experiences. Some of Scouting's romance has come to me because of my Wood Badge activities. The courses themselves were packed with nostalgic moments, the romance of Scouting. One of these romantic experiences came after the course concluded. It was my privilege on numerous occasions to present Wood Badge beads to members of my assigned patrols. It was a special thing for me to be asked to recognize some of the wonderful Scouters with whom I'd rubbed shoulders for a week in the ultimate of Scouting's adventures. It was always fun on such occasions to relive some of the special times we had shared at the course, and to sing once again, the "Wood Badge Song": (I used to be an Antelope . . . , Etc.) Just singing that song brought new tears as we recalled the spiritual and emotional experience we had shared in "Scouting Brotherhood". Wood Badge reunions were almost as much fun as the bead presentation ceremonies. The wives of Wood Badgers were funny to watch on such occasions. They couldn't believe that their "reserved, quiet husbands" could ever have done the things their Wood Badge patrol members were saying that they did. You kind of had to have been at the course to believe some of the stories we told.
The dedication of the Bartlett Lodge was another of those romantic moments of Scouting. We'd all worked hard on the lodge and all summer we'd watched it take shape. Thus, that fall day was particularly memorable. The lodge was a dream- come-true for many of us present. That beautiful building stood as a symbol of great Scouts and Scouters past, as well as a hope and dream for the future. Still another memorable moment of "romance" comes to mind. One time an Australian Scouter came to Utah and spent a few days at our home with us. We didn't know Bob Barnes before he arrived, but met him by referral from a mutual friend. It was fun to exchange "program notes" of the Australian and American Scouting programs. Within a few minutes we were on common ground as we began to share our Scouting experiences that were alike though a world apart. It was interesting to compare the two Scouting worlds of which we were a part. I think of the thrill of hearing that we would soon get new uniforms in the Boy Scouts of America. The news came as a shock. The National Office had done a phenomenal job of hiding the news until it was announced simultaneously throughout the entire country.
Even we professionals didn't know that a change was in the mill, until we received the historic telegrams with the news from the National Office. I was especially excited with the announcement and was one of the first to buy the new uniform. I rushed out to buy one the second that they became available. My wife added a little romance to my life as she designed and created a special anniversary present for me one year. She made me a huge quilt top from about thirty neckerchiefs that I'd worn during my days as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and professional. She had Wood Badge neckerchiefs, activity and training neckerchiefs, and more. To add to the romance of that special quilt, she sewed onto it, about 150 patches from the many activities of which I'd had a part. That quilt is still one of my greatest treasures. It is packed with the Romance of Scouting.
I think too, of some training courses on which I served on staff. One Cub Pow Wow was particularly romantic, as I recall. Though I'd been in Scouting for over twenty years since a Cub Scout, the Cub Scouters decided to award me with my Bobcat badge at a mock "Blue and Gold Banquet". The banquet, by the way, included sack lunches for everyone. My wife and daughters were present for that grand ceremony. One of my young daughters started screaming as she watched them turn Dad upside down to receive the award. She was convinced that they were going to hurt me in some way.
I think too, of displays of Scouting Spirit. I remember the extra-mile effort of Troop 222 from Brigham City, Utah as they spent their week at Bartlett. We made a special award to recognize their excellence. And how could I forget the romance of the spirited members of Troop 218 of Ogden, as together they chanted, year after year, "218, 218, 218, TOGETHER, ...huhhh!" I bragged of their spirit wherever I went. It was great to see how they could maintain the tradition over so many years. I wished that all boys in Scouting could feel the troop pride as evidenced in Troop 218. They really were "together". I remember too, the feeling I experienced when a couple of my Scouting heroes died. One of these was Norman Rockwell, Scouting's illustrator for over fifty years. I have always very much enjoyed his paintings so was saddened with the news of his death. A prominent church leader, N. Eldon Tanner, was another of my heroes. He was a special supporter of Scouting. Even as a young boy, I noticed that he ALWAYS wore a Scouting lapel pin as he spoke at the worldwide television broadcasts of the church's annual general conference.
I watched President Tanner for years and never once noticed him without the little Scouting fleur-de-lis. I was sorry to hear of his passing but he probably wore that little badge into the next world. His memory lingers still to remind me to always "do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law at all times ..."
My mind is drawn once again to the romance of Scout camp. I still chuckle as I picture myself with a long chain of Scoutmasters at our Friday night campfire programs. I'd go up front and would call down the leaders who were loved by all in camp. Arm in locked arm together, I'd lead the men in a rendition of "Alice the Camel". Together we'd sing: "Alice the camel has five humps, ... Alice the camel has five humps, ... Alice the camel has five humps, so GO, ... Alice, ... Go!" And then we'd continue singing down through one hump on Alice. The boys all laughed boisterously as we leaders bumped hips with each other in a great amount of force as we were hit by the urge to bump our neighbors. I'm sure we caused quite a scene. The boys really laughed and hooted at the end as I said, "Alice the camel has ... NO HUMPS ... 'cause ALICE ... IS A HORSE!" With that, I'd run off the stage leaving the Scoutmasters there to bask in the thrill of making a fool of themselves. The boys all loved it! I'll have to admit that it was pretty funny.
I think too, of many flag burning ceremonies and the honor trails through which many a Scout silently passed. I remember also, the romance of singing after each campfire programs with all of my camp staff as the Scouts quietly left the campfire bowls to participate in the Honor Trail or to return to their campsites. We all stood together between the two fires that were then coals and for several minutes we quietly sang or hummed the many solemn or patriotic songs of Scouting. Those were indeed special moments of Scouting romance.
And finally, I think of the candle lighting ceremony at the final campfire program of the National Jamboree in Idaho. At the beginning of the ceremony, all was dark in the huge natural amphitheater. All of the 35,000 Scouts and leaders present had a small three-inch candle. Everyone in the crowd was impressively quiet and there was not a sound anywhere. On a given signal, each Scoutmaster lit his own candle. He then shared his light by lighting the candles of his boy leaders. Then together, they lit the candles of everyone in their troops. Within a few moments, everyone held their glowing candles above their heads. Though it was dark, the area was almost as light as noon-day. We realized that on our own, we each have only a little light, but if we all let our little lights shine, we can really be a force for good in the world. We all left that beautiful ceremony proud of our association with Scouting and anxious to share our light with others.
Yes, Mr. Scoutmaster, Scouting is full of experiences in fun, adventure, and even romance. And it's all there for you to enjoy ...! Best wishes as you reach out to touch lives of youth who want to share that fun, adventure, and romance with you. Again I say, "You're a lucky man, Mr. Scout- master!" Live it to the fullest, ...
THE SPIRIT OF SCOUTING ...!
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